Red River Road

Anna Downes

Red River Road
Affirm Press
30 April 2024

Red River Road

Anna Downes

On the Coral Coast of Western Australia, solo traveller Katy is on a mission to find her free-spirited sister, Phoebe, who disappeared along the same route a year ago. But as she drives her campervan further into the wild north, Katy realises she's not as alone as she'd first believed. Soon she is pulled into a complicated web of secrets, lies, myths and stories that force her to question everything she thought she knew about her sister.

In this nerve-shredding outback thriller, our obsessions with freedom and beauty collide with our fear of what lies in the wilderness, and the truth behind Phoebe's disappearance proves stranger and darker than Katy could ever have guessed...


Katy’s sister Phoebe has vanished into thin air on a solo trip around Australia. Determined to find her when no one else can, Katy sets off in a van just like Phoebe’s, all on her own, just like Phoebe, following the exact path Phoebe did. (Sound like a bad idea to anyone else, or is that just me?) On the first night of her journey, Katy leaves the campsite, scared, possibly drunk and/or drugged and somehow manages not to kill herself on a lonely Western Australian highway. Having pulled to the side of the road, she accidentally picks up another lone woman, Beth, who is on the run, desperate and lying about pretty much everything.

Together, Katy and Beth join forces to keep each other safe and to track down Phoebe. In the meantime, teenager Wyatt is stuck at home in a remote town, missing his mother and watching horror movies. It is his older brother Lucas who Beth is hiding from, and his mother is another woman who disappeared without a trace, just like Phoebe did. As the two young women continue their journey, collecting clues and disinformation along the way, they are heading straight for Wyatt’s home and his monstrous family.

Written from the points of view of Katy, Beth, and Wyatt, this taut psychological thriller ensures the reader never truly knows who to believe. Phoebe’s descriptions of each place she stopped at along the way, which are interspersed as social media posts and include comments from potential suspects in her disappearance, give a real sense of place and insight into the world of those who #vanlife. Did she really go missing though? Can a woman travel safely on her own? And, most importantly, are Katy and Beth going to survive any of this?

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